It’s official! We’re married! It has been such a surreal experience and a crazy journey to get to where we are, but I’m happy we are finally here. With all of the curve balls that 2020 has thrown at us, I’m so happy that we were able to adjust our plans and still make this day possible. That being said, I absolutely cannot WAIT until our big(ger) party next year when we get to do it all again!! While I love this year’s little details and my dress, I cannot wait for my dream dress next year, the thousands of details we have planned, and to celebrate with our friends and family. We’re really embracing this year’s event and leveling up… times ten. But for now, let’s review this year’s elopement and how I was anything but calm while preparing for the day.
We decided a long time ago that we were going to have Jaren custom build an arbor/arch for the wedding ceremony. This is something that we’ll carry over and use again next year and then have at home in our yard for years to come. I came up with the look and design, then passed it off to Jaren who made some structural tweaks and brought it to life. When I say it came down to the wire, I’m not exaggerating. I was still staining it the week of the wedding! It turned out great and I was really excited about it. Melissa created a beautiful floral arrangement to sit in the corner and we ordered some fabric and greenery to hang to give it a really romantic, fall feel. All these details came into play, but there was a factor that I was not anticipating: 20 mile per hour gale force winds.
Guys, I wish I was kidding about this one, but you can’t make this stuff up. I was compulsively checking the weather 2-3 times a day for about two weeks leading up to the event. While I have always wanted our ceremony to be outside, this year it was even more crucial to have nice weather with COVID-19. Let me put out this disclaimer right now: both our ceremony and reception were set (and eventually occurred) outside AND socially distanced. We only had ten guests and everyone who was in attendance both received a negative COVID test and wore a mask when social distancing was not possible (aside from photos). It was our number one priority to make the day as safe as possible, with every precaution in place. Like I said, one of these precautions was that all events would take place outdoors. Let me hit you with three words once again: Gale. Force. Winds. To say I was in a bit of a panic would be an understatement! Luckily, despite the winds, the temps were supposed to be unseasonably high in the mid-seventies, so we told everyone to bring a jacket for dinner and that we would stick it out. They were all champs and it worked out great. The decor on the other hand, had some issues with the weather…
Let me set the scene for you. At this point in my life, I am somewhat seasoned at running events like this, something this small scale is a piece of cake. However, when it is your own event and you need to worry about getting yourself ready as well, it’s a totally different ballgame. Add in insane winds and you have a recipe for crazy. Future brides and grooms to-be please take note: hire a dang day-of coordinator. And be willing to delegate! Being so small scale, I did not hire a day-of coordinator. And I truly believe that without the weather complication, I would have been fine. But if there’s one thing I have learned from the event game, it’s that there is always a curveball. Always. We were totally on track for our timeline, but there were things beyond my control, i.e. weather. Because of the wind, the dinner tables were not set up when I needed them to be, so I had to delegate. I set up a sample of what I wanted each table to look like with my florals and decor, and the venue staff replicated it when it was time to set up. Overall, I was happy with how they did. When it came to setting up the ceremony decor, I was a mess. Guys, wind is rough. It really just messed with everything and I was very quickly starting to panic. Luckily, Melissa sent me with approximately seven thousand zip ties, so we just went to town with those. Talk about a life saver. While it ended up slightly hindering the loose, romantic feeling the fabric was supposed to bring, it was way better than having everything loose and blowing around like crazy. But when I say I was in a blind panic trying to zip tie everything down thirty minutes before I was set to walk down the aisle with family arriving, I’m not exaggerating. The one pro to this? I didn’t have time to get nervous about all the attention or any of the other silly concerns I had previously had floating in my head! It really didn’t even hit me until we were halfway down the aisle that this was really happening.
Once everything was set, I rushed up to the room to get dressed and do the final details on myself. Our incredible photographer, Melanie Zacek, was with us for the getting ready process. She has such a calming presence that I was shockingly calm while getting ready even though time was tight. Before I knew it, we were set to walk down the aisle! Approximately 15 seconds later, I panicked as those lovely gale force winds started to RIP my veil out of my head. I literally stopped my parents in the aisle and made them each grab a side of my veil and hold it to my arm. Hilarious now, terrifying in the moment. Eventually (let’s be real, very quickly because we’re a fast walking crew) we made it to the final destination and the ceremony began. Our friend Sara did an amazing job with the officiating and our sisters, Danielle and Emily, shared beautiful readings. I also want to shout out our friend Brett — he was in charge of the Zoom call allowing our family to connect in. He also dealt with a minor panic attack when my running late caused the Zoom timer to get down to less than two minutes. Luckily, we finished just in time! Pro tip to all those doing a Zoom or partial Zoom wedding: suck it up and pay for a month of the pro version of Zoom so you don’t have to worry about time!
After saying our “I do’s,” we all hung around to take photos before our family walked over to dinner and Jaren and I did some additional portraits with Melanie. I think at this point it was starting to sink in for me that we were actually married. I will say, a month later, it still is weird to see a ring on Jaren’s finger, to call him my husband, or to say my name is Jill Lutenegger. Melanie just did such an incredible job with the photos, you can’t even see the panic in my eyes from every time the wind blew! I’m dead serious when I tell you that in between photos, my mom would shove the comb of the veil back into my head. I would also have whoever was next to me in the photos be holding the veil to my back so it wouldn’t pull if at all possible.
We finally joined everyone up on the outdoor terrace for dinner. It was a little chilly, but we had a nice fire going and had some matching blanket scarves for all the ladies. All the food was delicious and it was a fun, intimate, and low key evening. As excited as I am for the larger event with everyone next year, it was really special to be able to joke around and be so relaxed this year. We still got to capture special moments, Sara even climbed into the bushes to take photos of us cutting our cake! By the end of the night I could already laugh about the crazy wind and everything that it set off.
Another quick thing that I wanted to mention was just how special everyone made me feel that day. As the day got closer, I was really struggling with “what could have been” and sad that it wasn’t going to be the day we had planned. That Saturday morning, I woke up to texts and Facebook messages from a whole crowd of people, some completely shocked me, and this continued throughout the day. I truly cannot thank you enough for taking the time to reach out and send us good thoughts. It really just opened my eyes to how many wonderful people I have in my life and how much some people care. Every single one of you, along with our family that was with us, helped make our day so special.
So… what’s next? Well, we get to take a little bit of a breather now, but we’ll pick back up in the spring when we start nailing down all the final details for our 2021 bash! To any other COVID brides or grooms reading this, I hope that you were/are able to have just as special of a day as we were despite the circumstances. If anyone has any questions or anything that they want me to break down further to help with their wedding planning, I’m always here! Just shoot me an email and we will make it happen. Until then, happy holidays and cheers to a new year filled with happiness, love, and good health for all!
Photography: Melanie Zacek Photography
Venue: Mirbeau Inn & Spa
Florals: Melissa Buscemi/Parsimony Inspired
Styling/Design: Parsimony Inspired
Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Hair: Vanity Hair Salon
Makeup: Emily Kuzeja
Suit: Joseph A Bank
Tie: Tie Bar